This film says tons about lesbian culture and desire.
Directed by Max Disgrace.
I still remember the first time I watched Crystal Clear at the Porn Film Festival in Berlin. It took me nothing to get fully immersed in a multilayered, relatable date scenario. The music, the story unfolding in tandem with the warmth of the flesh, all the relatable emotions about the potential scenarios when going out on a date.
This award-winning film was made in response to the London’s first Porn Film Festival, whose first edition took place in 2016. The LPFF was created by and for the local queer community. Crystal Clear in so many ways embodies the highly independent and creative spirit of London’s queer scene. The DIY nature of the film also reflects the struggles of local communities who currently find it really hard to put their work out there, due to precariousness, lack of space and ongoing censorship.
Let’s talk about some relevant aspects from Crystal Clear
Main Inspiration: According to Max, he found his main inspiration in lesbian erotica magazines from the 80s all the way to early 00s. Pivotal magazines, such as “On Our Backs,” or i’s UK equivalent, called “Quim.” Max also included references from smutty zines from Sarah Schulman and Eileen Myles. The other inspiration was a date. All these elements were mostly poured in the film’s erotic narration that illustrates the potential galloping thoughts that can unfold in a date. Expectations, emotional baggage and lesbian desire.
Visuals and Music: The fascinating point of view serves as a complement to the unfolding erotic narration. Different body parts pressing against glass under warm light. Mesmerizing face sitting, boob smothering movements, making waves over a lubricated surface. The movements are slow, enticing and provocative, they unfold at the rhythm of Rude Jude’s voice, evoking the erotic fantasies of the narration, speaking of the desires and all the things one can potentially wish from a first date, as well as the many questions and the uncertain outcome of an encounter.
Sound design and music are key in films. They can either take them to the next level, or sink an otherwise fabulous piece. For Crystal Clear, the music composition not only is very well paired with the images and flavor of the film. It also makes a potent entrance in the very first seconds of the film and manages to add to the erotic flow of images and words.
What can be learned from Crystal Clear?: This film says tons about lesbian culture and desire. Not only is an homage to some of the most notable English speaking authors and publications that have served as crucial points of memory and resistance. It also manages to be highly relatable about how desire and fantasies can work, hence contributing to normalizing them, to provide validation for marginalized folks who can feel similarly, but don’t have many spaces to share such thoughts and feelings.
Understanding how pleasure works is a lot about taking a glimpse into how fantasies and desires are constructed and expressed. We don’t always need to see realistic, graphic depictions of sex. There’s plenty to learn from tapping into marginalized sex cultures, in tandem with imagination and creativity.